Will My Rental Car Reservation Be Honored?

Filed Under: Rental Cars

I wrote recently about how renting cars is the one aspect of the travel experience that I find most frustrating, and where I’ve more or less taken a defeatist attitude. Fortunately OMAAT readers provided some great tips about how to make the car rental experience better. That leads me to a different car rental topic I’m curious to get some opinions on.

Renting cars is really complicated right now

There has been widespread coverage of how challenging renting cars is nowadays — not only are rental cars ridiculously expensive right now, but there’s also a massive shortage:

  • During the pandemic, a lot of car rental companies decided to sell their cars to raise money, especially since used cars have been selling for pretty high prices
  • Now there’s a ton of demand for rental cars, as people are starting to travel, largely by road given travel restrictions
  • The rental car industry has virtually no standards or accountability, and is happy to overbook to no end

As a result, we’re seeing a couple of trends:

  • Rental car prices are through the roof, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before
  • People with rental car reservations are showing up at counters only to find that no cars are available (which I can’t mention without posting the below Seinfeld clip)

Should I be worried about my car rental reservation?

Soon my fully vaccinated family will be going to Hawaii, which we’re really excited about (my mom hasn’t been to Hawaii in many decades, and her partner has never been). While I usually do what I can to avoid renting cars, it goes without saying that on most Hawaiian islands renting a car is important, and not having access to a rental car could hugely change your experience.

I have a rental car reserved — it’s a refundable booking with Sixt. I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to avoid any surprises. That’s especially true when I see stories of people in Hawaii renting U-Hauls to get around due to lack of rental car inventory.

I notice that the rental car company is now selling the same type of car rental for more than twice as much, which is a trend we’ve seen across the industry.

I know there’s always a risk that my rental car reservation won’t be honored, at least for the specific type of car we reserved. Heck, that has happened to me more times in the past year than I can count.

But is there anything I can do to prevent this?

  • Have rental car companies at all been contacting people in advance if they won’t honor reservations, or do you just show up and find out they have no car for you?
  • Is there anything that can be done to make sure they actually “hold” your car for you, like offering to pre-pay, or something? For future reference, do car rental companies actually consistently honor pre-paid reservations, and if so, is that the way to go in the future?
  • Do rental car companies offer cars on a first come, first served basis, or do they save the cars for people who ended up booking higher rates because they waited longer?

If anyone has any experience or tips, short of just having car rental status and not showing up late at night (I have status, and our flight doesn’t arrive too late), I’d love to hear them!

Bottom line

Car rentals have quickly become one of the costliest and most complicated parts of travel. The car rental industry has always been terrible at managing expectations, overbooking endlessly and with no shame. But that issue has only been exacerbated with car rental companies reducing the inventory of cars while dealing with unprecedented demand.

If anyone has any experience and/or tips, I’d love to hear them (and I’m sure I’m not alone)!

  1. Tried renting cars from hertz in San Diego and San Francisco over Xmas time in 2018. Unfortunately made the mistake of booking at in-city locations which were out of cars by the time we reached and had long waiting times (from a few hours to the next day). While they did tell us that availability was generally better at the airport, no cars were available at that moment.

    Had refundable reservations with no prepayment made so the reservations were simply canceled one we told them we didn’t want to join the waitlist. Not sure how it would’ve panned out had we made non-refundable reservations. In the end we were forced to use turo.

  2. If you want to have a cushion, try to have a second reservation in a different car rental company. I was shocked to see people are paying $700/day to rent a car in Hawaii. That is insane!!! It better be a big car so you can skip the hotel and just stay in the car the entire trip. I would never go to Hawaii without a rental car so not much you can do there. Also, I had great and horrible experiences renting from Sixt. Yes, they have great cars but most often the car you want is never available and you end up having to take whatever they have left.

  3. I have no knowledge about renting cars from the airport, but, per FrequentMiler, some car dealerships will rent you car a.) cheaper and b.) with better guarantees of having a car.

    I would look it up on FrequentMiler, they wrote a whole guide on it. You may want to cancel your rental with Sixt and rent a car from a dealership.

  4. Here’s my data point, if it helps:

    Booked 6 night “intermediate” rental car out of Ft. Lauderdale through Budget via Costco Travel less than a week before trip. $500, no pre-pay. Waited behind ~3 people at the rental car line and ended up with a Nissan Altima, which I think would have been a one level “upgrade”. I was concerned ahead of time that there might be an issue getting a car because we did not pre-pay (and premium/specialty cars were pretty much gone online by the time we booked), but there appeared to be no issue with lines/availability last Sunday at FLL at any of the rental counters.

  5. I’m also running into rental car issues. Part of our 10-day Hawaii honeymoon includes 2 nights on the Big Island in October. I have a (pricey) rental with Avis (~$300), but I was waiting to get enough points to book with Enterprise between Kona and Hilo airports (our arrival and departure airports). Last week, they still had plenty of options, and just this weekend I got enough points to book it.

    But nope, they’re all sold out now. I debated on doing a pre-paid reservation with Hertz that came out to $50 cheaper, but I also don’t want to risk paying for a car now and end up with nothing when we get there in October. *sigh*

    Thankfully already booked out SUV for Kauai through Costco. Was about $500 for the week but rates are already way past that for even a compact car.

  6. Same question. I have a weeklong rental car booked for the Big Island, booked 6 months ago at a $350/week rate. Now over $1000.

  7. You should try Turo. I’ve generally had decent experiences, it’s way cheaper and you can get a much better car (make sure you pick somewhat of a recent model, and check the reviews). Since you’re dealing with a person, you know 100% that the car will be available.

  8. In my recent experience renting from a Hertz location in west LA, they were completely sold out for my dates, and I received a call from them the day prior to confirm that I’m still coming. I assumed a lot of people cancelled after those calls since availability opened up again. No issues at all getting the type I reserved.

  9. I was skeptical as well as we booked a car with Enterprise in February on Maui. The cheapest car I could get was a sports car (Dodge Challenger or similar).

    I showed up, and my car was there. Enterprise seemed to handle it really well. My car cost $600 for 9 days, the person in front of me paid $1800 for the same amount of time. may be a different car, but still ridiculous. I did not see anyone turned down though at Alamo or Enterprise, but who knows.

    A far cry from when we were in Maui in November and had 50 of the same Nissan Altimas to choose from.

  10. I don’t know for sure but I do have the strong sense that rental car locations, especially in Hawaii, are not all that organized or prioritized. But, I would note that there is a huge wave of arrivals in Hawaii in the afternoon (1-4pm-ish) every day, so doing anything you can to be on a flight that arrives relatively early in the afternoon should — I hope — give you an edge if there are shortages.

  11. I’m dealing with the same issue, high prices for summer car rentals in Hawaii ($300/day). I get that rental car companies dumped cars due to lack of demand and to raise capital, but are there any data points indicating the diminished capacity? I don’t think there is an increase of traveller’s coming to Hawaii 2021 vs 2019? I mean it’s long like they’ve added a ton of flights or made these flights A380s or 747?

  12. Price you paid doesn’t matter, pre or post paid doesn’t matter.

    It’s ALL first come first served. All of it. Anyone who says otherwise is incorrect and I challenge them to give an example of getting bumped or prioritized over someone else due to different rate or pre/post pay

  13. Zipcar is available in Honolulu, though not other islands. You also need to signup to be a member, which has a fee and is not instantaneous (at least as of the last time I used it, which was many years ago). That said, it could be a worthwhile investment given the current car rental environment, if you’ll be able to make use of the membership elsewhere.

  14. I have a convertible booked for one day in HNL this weekend. I’m expecting a car to be available, but I’m not expecting to actually drive off in a convertible.

  15. Same Jerry I have a nice suv rental. I don’t give a crap as long as it’s big enough to fit us 3 and our 2 suitcases.

  16. Tip: rent from a small local company and call/email to make sure they will keep a vehicle available for you. Might have to take an Uber but better then getting stuck with out a car

  17. I worry about this too. I have a trip planned for late June in and out of Vegas, but the trip is really about going to the Grand Canyon, Zion, etc. So we need a car. I booked a car in January and actually got a great deal. But I worry that my reservations will not be honored since my per day rate is low – they make more money going with an expensive reservation. On top of that, I had a flight arriving in Vegas around lunch, but the airline recently cancelled it and moved me to a flight arriving early evening. So I am a bit worried because going without a car for even a day will miss up a lot of the trip (hotels, tours, etc.). I am keeping an eye on car supply and thinking of Turo or Audi Silvercar as a backup as the date gets closer.

  18. Got a $400 fraudulent smoke charge from Hertz. Was held hostage by them and AMEX for two months until I threatened to file a lawsuit.

    Next week I rented a Jeep in Hawaii for $500 and I will be getting a Jeep. Otherwise I will punch the rental car manager in his face and kick his teeth in. Does it help that you arrive at 3pm as opposed to 10pm ? It doesn’t hurt.

  19. I’ve been renting cars all through the pandemic because I don’t own a car (I just rent from an Avis close to my condo, occasionally use Zipcar or Gig), so I have legitimate status, not just “hey, here’s my shiny card saying DYKWIA”. I have a corporate code that’s good for Avis, which I didn’t use as often pre-pandemic, but here we are with escalated rental rates. There have been occasional rentals through Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty… which stopped when they became unreliable post Chapter 11. Hertz/Dollar/Thrifty are the ones who’ve punked me on rentals. I’ve tried to avoid them since getting punked.

    Answers inline:

    Have rental car companies at all been contacting people in advance if they won’t honor reservations, or do you just show up and find out they have no car for you?

    LOL, no, I showed up at the PHX rental car center, all the Thifty/Dollar/Hertz offices were closed, sign out front of Hertz (the final place I went to) saying “no cars”. Not exactly amazing service.

    Is there anything that can be done to make sure they actually “hold” your car for you, like offering to pre-pay, or something? For future reference, do car rental companies actually consistently honor pre-paid reservations, and if so, is that the way to go in the future?

    This was a prepaid reservation through Autoslash, so, no, that didn’t help. Autoslash refunded me, and I used my Avis corporate rate to grab a car on the spot.

    What does help me that the Avis app lets you pick a car before you arrive. I’ve done that (they’ll give you a warning of “you’re committing to rent this car and we’ll charge you for it”) and gotten my car. If Sixt offers that, I’d use it.

  20. Something I always do (usually for hotels and airline tickets as well, but ALWAYS for car rentals) – call the location directly and ask them to email me a confirmation, even if I already received it. This gives me the person’s email when I receive it and I start a very brief email thread confirming everything. Has never failed me and I’ve found that by being extra courteous I’ve often received upgrades and just better service in general. At a smaller destination office (such as your Sixt in HI example), I’ve ever encountered the person I had been emailing, which is always great.

  21. Sixt do status match if you have it with another company but not them and as with any loyalty scheme the higher your status the better you are treated (or at least less bad)

    Never had a problem with Sixt personally but so much is down to the individual branch.

  22. @AndrewP: usually the problem with Sixt is that their view of “similar” car is different than mine. When you reserve a category that shows a Mercedes you should not expect to get a Chrysler 300 as similar. When you reserve a category that shows a BMW X5 you should not expect to get a Nissan as similar. They started to have a “guaranteed” car but I also haven’t had much luck with that since if they ran out of that car or someone that was supposed to return a car didn’t there is not much you ca do. I guess this is the least of the problems nowadays since any car seem to be a car.

  23. Booked a reservation through Expedia for a car with Enterprise at a smaller off-airport location. Received a call within 24 hrs telling me they wouldn’t have a car for me. Re-booked directly through Enterprise website for a different location (again, smaller and off-airport where you generally get better pricing) … same things, they called to say we were 6th in line on the waitlist.

    I recommend using SilverCar, Turo, Zipcar or even RVShare as alternatives. If you’re desperate, rent a small moving van.

  24. I’m planning on a Oahu trip in late June/July as well but had reserved a car back in December with Budget. I’m definitely weary of showing up and there not being any cars in the parking lot. I went ahead and booked another car with Hertz using a corporate discount code for the same dates as well and will try my luck with either bookings upon arrival.

    I did recently just go to Miami 2 weeks ago and had no issues with my car rental. Booked using Hertz and my corporate discount code and had no issues. My name was up on the Hertz board upon arrival and I just picked whichever car I wanted within the aisle.

  25. I have flown to Maui three times this year for work (currently at my place winding down the third trip) and will be back again at least four more times.
    Is there a rental car shortage? Absolutely. I confirmed this with the concierge services at Four Seasons, Andaz, and Grand Wailea.
    Will it affect people with status? Doubt it. I’m a Hertz Presidents Circle. The only hiccup I ran into was a lack of variety in what I could choose on landing. There was no attempt to markup my reservation but my company uses a corporate code so YMMV. I usually like the Mercedes roadster but they have only had SUVs of late. Plenty of lower tier inventory as backup though if you don’t want the convertible Mustang or even worse a Jeep that screams “rip off this haole who got upsold.”
    They are bringing in plenty of cars for summer because demand will be huge, and yes I booked my June reservation two months ago in anticipation of this mess.

  26. Not having a rental car immediately on Oahu isnt a big deal. Lots to do within bus/uber distance if you have to wait a day.

    Maui, not so great,

  27. Rented from Hertz in WeHo last weekend. Told me they cancelled 20 reservations since they didn’t have cars. I was “lucky” since they saw on my reservation I was going to Palm Springs one-way. Downgraded from Full-size SUV to compact. Smallest car I’ve been in decades. Got attitude from manager after I asked for an adjustment.

  28. For those coming to HNL, make a back up reservation in one of the towns were car rentals are mostly for locals, just in case your airport car rental is cancelled. Both Enterprise in Kailua (Oahu) and Hertz in Kaneohe near Windward Mall might be good back up options.

    Yeah, you will have to pay $60 or so for an Uber to get there if your airport reservation is denied, but better than no car. Then when you return the car, you can return it at the airport for a fee ($50 with the Kailua Enterprise) or return it at the original rental location and take an Uber to the airport.

  29. I agree with the previous comment—I would have at least one backup car reservation if not multiple backups. I generally never have a problem with hertz (prez circle) or national (EE). If they’re out of cars they won’t let me reserve one.

  30. Be an elite with all three major car rental companies and use their express services. Make at least two reservations with different companies. Arrive early in the afternoon.

  31. We have a convertible booked in Maui for early May. There are now no convertibles left for the same week, and the prices are x3 higher. I called Hertz to confirm that there would be a convertible when we arrive….. clearly an agent at a global call center has *absolutely* no way of confirming this, but they said yes. My only saving grace is that I paid in advance on my AMEX, so that gives me a false sense of security that Hertz already took my money. Time will tell…..

  32. Ben, try to book a second rental from a local company instead of a (inter)national chain.

    As I had mentioned in another post, our checkin took 10 mins but had to wait for an hr to get our car. They were swamped. We were lucky as tourism to Hawaii had just begun to pick up.

  33. @ Ben — Make 20 cancellable reservations with Hertz and cancel 19 immediately before arrival.

    Seriously though, you should be concerned. We went to Tampa last week, and our rental pick up was almost a disaster. We ended up with a car, but we had to wait.

    We got very lucky with Hertz. We began burning our huge stash of Hertz points about 15 months ago instead of buying a new car, and they are now 100% depleted. We bought a new car a few weeks ago. We won’t be planning to use any rental cars anytime soon.

  34. Just had an issue with Hertz on Friday. I booked a compact car online for four days in North Bend, OR. I show up on the only flight there a day and they tell me they cancelled my reservation shortly after I booked. I never got an email from them and was given no explanation. I was forced to rent their last car, a full size SUV @ $150/day. Had that not been available I would have had to fly home immediately because there’s no other way to get around here.

    Additionally, I booked a 4wd SUV from Hertz last month because I specifically needed 4wd, and when I showed up at the airport they only had rwd vehicles left and offered no compensation for the change. It’s unbelievable they’re allowed to do that.

  35. Why not make 3 reservations with different companies as a hedge? Once you get a car, cancel what’s left (if any).

  36. I live in Hawaii, on the Big Island. The rental car shortage is real, and all the rental companies are scrambling to get new vehicles in to increase their inventory. The problem is that there is a lack of new vehicles on the mainland due to a shortage of parts – especially microchips. The car rental companies are struggling to get anything at all shipped here. So, if you think that by the end of summer, things will get back to normal, I would think again.

    Good news: I’ve not heard of anyone with a confirmed reservation being canceled AFTER they arrive here, although some have had to wait a bit.

  37. Yikes. I’ll report back on Hertz st Denver airport after experience Wednesday (day after tomorrow)

  38. Some car dealerships will rent out their loaner cars. check with local dealers at your destination (I’m talking other than Silvercar)

  39. Picked up a car with Avis for a 2-week rental (costing less than $500 for the two weeks) last week at the Big Island Kona airport. First, the rental bus would pick up only the driver of the rental. Advised others to wait for the rental driver to pick up the passengers at the terminal. After getting off the bus the line snakes outside the combined Avis/Budget office. Looked like at least a 45 minute wait. I proceeded to get the line and after a few minutes found out they had an express lines which I qualify for as a preferred member. The line had 1 person in it and when I stood in line they immediately open another window. They verified my Hawaii Covid test clearance. Avis Kona already had the contract printed and a upgraded car from a full size to a SUU assigned before I arrived. The checkout process was less than 5 minutes.

  40. Ben, what island are you visiting? Here on Oahu, Servco Pacific operates a car share program called Drive Hui. There’s no membership fee and the all-inclusive rates start at $10/hr or $84/day. I believe the base car is a Toyota Prius, though they offer a number of cars from Toyota and Lexus.


  41. I’ve always heard pre-paying guarantees availability but I don’t know for a fact if that was true for sure (even before the supply/demand conditions changed the calculation).

  42. I tried to rent a car in Tampa Florida at the beginning of March and Avis/Budget (where I have a corporate account with) and they offered me nothing but a 12 passenger van. They wouldn’t let one way rentals out of the state and otherwise you had to rent for a week. I ended up booking an Amtrak sleeper. Which despite being more expensive than I expected compared to renting a car I ended up enjoying it (although they need to bring back the old diner car). In June 2020, I was able to rent a one-way from Charlotte NC to Cleveland OH a mini van for $78. That was half the normal cost and when demand was probably still extraordinarily low. I am hoping that since I have a corporate account with Fastbreak and pre-payment that I won’t be dropped. If you were looking for a car, last fall was the time to buy a lot of off-rental off-lease cars and trucks being sold many of them before their normal life cycle.

  43. Rented last month on Oahu for 3 weeks. Booked a basic car using a corporate rate ($170/week) so cost was very low. On arrival they said they only had Mustang convertibles available, so basically, we got a much more expensive car at a very low cost. The convertible was fun! I suppose this could have been a problem if you were a larger group and were counting on a larger back seat, but we had no complaints at all.

  44. I highly recommend that you take a video of a walk around of the car you rent from Sixt. On my last rental with them (pre-COVID), they claimed that I that I was responsible for a pre-existing large mark on the car. I showed the rep the video I took that I took prior to rental, and they dropped the claim.

  45. The weak link at ATL is rental cars, mostly Avis. Car shortage before the pandemic is exacerbated now, even for Avis preferred members on corp acct. I regularly double book with Avis and Hertz and have regularly gone with Hertz after getting to Avis and no availability. Hertz is in bankruptcy, and short on cars too, but their service is exponentially better than Avis in Atlanta.

  46. Alright, since I am a frequent renter with the infamous rental car agency’s of this world, here’s my two cents (and brutally honest experience):

    renting cars has gone to sh*** sometime mid last year. I had my last “decent-to-great* rental car experience in May 2020.
    from then on:
    – prices have soared and now, these days are beyond ridiculous. I am getting quotes for monthly rates for an intermediate above and beyond USD 3-4k. you’ll better buy the car.
    – status (I have highest tier status with 4 of the most (formerly) prestigious rental car companies) was completely useless. hasn’t helped once. wasn’t ever again even in the slightest bit acknowledged.
    – the clean promises they all made were a mere joke. just marketing BS.
    – upgrades are nonexistent.
    – short term bookings are high risk!! you may not get a car! they might still sell you though!
    – staff anywhere became plain rude and treated most customers badly just because.
    – availability of cars was already bad last year in summer but now is absolutely crazy bad. Again, with highest tier status, I have to wait at all major airport locations for a car to turn in. there is no choice any longer and you have to take what they whip up or wait even longer for another loose-loose situation… my expectations and standards are now: get 4 wheels that aren’t flat, brakes and A car that has AppleCarPlay, the rest doesn’t matter anymore.
    – in my opinion the worst is, that these companies dont just acknowledge their situation. No, they try to tell you lies after lies and treat customers like complete idiots.
    – booking any kind of specific car type or class is worthless. your not gonna get it anyway. They just don’t have it ready and you need to take what they have. of course at the higher rate that you booked! they don’t downgrade the rate.
    – I used to make changes a lot (to other drop off locations, changes in dates, and such). this also became nearly impossible since they either tell you, your car cant be changed (most likely because they might not like the rate you found) or the rate they quote you is so ridiculously high that you could buy the car, right there without even blinking.
    – It also seems, some of these companies have made it more common business to just put charges on your card that were higher than what is booked and then you have to fight to get your money back. Just how unserious type of business is that! Suffice to say, these companies wont see my business ever again.

    over all, the worst for me is the way they treat their customers currently. I didn’t expect the same level of service throughout last year with what happened to them even though I still constantly had rental cars all over the place. If they had just communicated a clear message of what they are able to and not just constantly tried to oversell what they all couldn’t, that would have been enough to spare a lot of issues and frustration and build loyalty at the same time.
    They could have easily reduced the available car classes and booking options and clearly communicated that. But no, they offered everything and then came up short. Great way!!

    Anyway, I hope it’ll get smoother soon enough but as usual, the cr** sticks around long after.

  47. Arriving Jackson Hole airport late 8pm July 31st. Have had unpaid reservation for 1 week at $650 for 7 days with Alamo via Costco. Since we are arriving late in the day prior to closing, am worried that we will end up stranded at the airport parking lot since there are not that many companies left to reach out to. We need to drive immediately for over an hour toward Idaho Falls to reach Victor across the mountain ridge and i am afraid of being stranded with no where to get out of the airport to make it to Victor. Since many of those rental agencies are owned by the same company, will it do any good to also book at the others?

  48. In my experience the most important factor is a relationship with the location. Since you most likely don’t have that – here are some tips when it comes to Sixt:

    1. Try contacting to station a couple of days ahead of time to confirm the booking and to maybe see what is available. Mention specific cars if you have something in mind. Unfortunately Sixt makes it quite hard to find a phone number or mail address for a specific station (they want you to contact their central hotline and/or service center). I can try to find that out for you though.
    2. Never accept any down- or sidegrades without a partial refund or something else in return (free insurance upgrade, unlimited miles etc.). Insist on the booked class -> or demand an upgrade. You can even demand/ask to exchange your car the next day for the booked class if you want to take the time.
    3. Employees get a bonus for selling you insurance and extras -> take advantage of that when negotiating an upgrade etc.
    4. Be aware that they can basically give you any car on the lot if it is available-> take point 3 into account here and put some money into “their” pocket and get the better car in return (if it is above the booked class).

    With the above and Platinum Status with Sixt, I average about a 60% upgrade average and 0% downgrades. Without the status you might not get all the upgrades, but NEVER settle on downgrades without a refund and other benefits.

  49. Just like overbooking airline seats, it should be illegal to sell reservations for something you don’t have.

  50. I’m confused by the mention of you mother’s partner. is that no longer your well travelled and noted father?

    as far as cars in hawaii, make a couple reservations. do not pay in advance. reservations made the same day should have greater stock and significantly lower prices. the overstock is in vans and large suv types like Yukon. that’s what it’s like now anyway.

    I disagree with @ jan above. sixt, at least on maui, is a challenge even in the best of times.

    restaurant reservations are are tougher than you would expect so plan well in advance.

  51. I’d be concerned that the rental agency might stiff you when you arrive. As I’ve had this happen before the scamdemic ruined everything, I could easily foresee it happening now. In my case, because I had status, I was given a 12 passenger van for the same low low price as my typical Avis Preferred intermediate car rate. It was a business trip (STL, which often had issues at AVIS), so I only needed “4 feckin’ wheels and a seat” (to paraphrase Steve Martin).

    But they can totally stiff you and get away with it. Just read about all the U-Haul vans being rented out in HI to vacationers. Home Depot trucks too (which are by the hour, so that can’t be fun). Good luck.

  52. We decided to cancel our Hawaii vacation in June and are headed to Alaska instead, and I cant believe the prices up there! Autoslash found a rate of $900 for 1 week last week, and this week the minimum rental time is 1 month for like $3500. Even the small local rental shops want $100 per day before taxes for a mid size car. I was fortunate and found a hard to find rental agency in Anchorage and rented an Impala for $469 for the week, and I feel like I won the lottery.

  53. For those going to “high risk” rental areas like Hawaii, why not book a driver for a week instead of a car? At the rates noted above, the car could come with a person who probably wants the work!

  54. Dood, ppl read this blog to get well-written travel advice, not to read crowd-sourced, high-noise experiences about people’s Xmas rental car struggles pre-covid.

    I hope you start traveling and writing about it more. This blog could use more original content and fewer re-posts

  55. I just returned from the Big Island and rented for 5 days w/ Hertz. Used some points to supplement the cost and it was $187 for 5 days. Rental car facilities are bit overwhelmed. I know Hertz is honoring all Thirfty and Dollar rentals at the moment. Enterprise is covering all National and Alamo. And Budget recently opened and is honoring all Avis reservations as well. Outside of long lines if you’re not a Hertz gold member it was relatively painless. I would recommend linking Marriott with Hertz to earn 5star and booking with hertz.

  56. I have President’s Circle with Hertz. Had a confirmed booking few weeks ago in PHX, made well in advance. They cancelled on me by sending me a text 45 minutes before I was due to pick up my car. Sorry no vehicles available. Feel free to FOAD. Every other agency sold out. After few hours of calling around I rented a UHaul. Cost me extra money and a day of our vacation lost. They couldn’t care less and having status means absolutely zero.

  57. @D3kingg says:
    April 26, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    What time did you land in Kona ?

    We landed at Kona at 12:50 pm on Alaska, but because of a blocked gate didn’t deplane until 2:20pm. I was at the Avis/Budget counter by 2:35pm.

  58. @Doug

    Cool. You were smart to use the preferred line. Our flight will likely land early into Kona around 1:30pm ahead of schedule on American. The winds are light. My dad booked directly with AVIS it was $630 for 4 days. Ridiculous. I think people run into trouble when they book an economy car with a 3rd party Expedia , orbitz, etc.

  59. I rent cars in Phoenix about once a month. My rental last month has been booked about a month in advance, and I hold platinum status with Enterprise.

    Hearing about what was going on in the rental car market I called them two days in advance to ask them if there is anything that could be done to guarantee that I would get a car when I needed one. I reminded them of my elite status, and they flat out told me that didn’t matter and there was nothing that could be done. I called them again the night before my reservation and again inquired if there was anything I could do to ensure that I would get the car, given that my pick up time was not set until 5 PM. They again told me there was nothing I could do, pre-paying would do nothing, and that I could call back tomorrow afternoon to see how things were going. The day of my reservation I called them yet again and they told me around noon that they still had people from early in the morning sitting at the counter waiting for cars. They told me that they would call me around 3 PM and let me know whether they would have a car for me that day. At 3 PM they called me and told me there were not going to be any more cars and that they could roll my booking to first thing in the morning if I wanted to try again tomorrow. After having looked at other options like U-Haul and Turo and zip car, I agreed to let them roll the booking and wait it out. I was told at 3pm I was number seven on the list for the next day.

    The day after I was supposed to pick up my rental car, I called them yet again and was told three hours after they opened that I was still number seven on the list. I suspect that they were do you prioritizing my booking since it was only a one day rental, and I had booked through Costco travel. I decided to just take an Uber down to the rental car location and wait them out. Upon arrival they ended up giving me a car, although they did have several people waiting in the lobby for vehicles still.

    I submitted some feedback on their website about my disappointing experience, and had an area manager call me pretty quickly to apologize. No compensation was offered, but he did assure me that I would have absolutely no problems with my car rental this month. I am picking up a car tomorrow afternoon and as of today they have assured me they will have a car for me.

    In short, I don’t believe that they have any obligation to honor your car rental, nor do I think that your elite status gets you anything, and if they don’t honor it I don’t believe they’re going to give you any compensation. I think the best bet is to make multiple refundable reservations and hope that one of them works out.

  60. In my experience there is a huge quality difference between the big car rental companies. And a hint: Enterprise isn’t at the top.
    Sixt scores the highest in my book, but honestly I have never rented in Hawaii before. So I think you made the best bet by booking with them.

  61. Update:
    Had another rental today in Scottsdale, AZ. After my last experience I had submitted some feedback on their website and got a personal phone call from the area manager who swore up and down that this rental would be absolutely zero problems for me. I was not offered any compensation but he did apologize profusely and said that he would ensure that everything went smoothly this time. And it did – zero issues.
    Phoenix is still making national news for how terrible the rental car situation is right now, and it’s definitely still a problem, but this offsite location was significantly better than I’ve seen it at any point in the last two months. They had a parking lot full of vehicles when I got there at 5 PM and they mentioned they had had a crazy day but they were keeping up with reservations. It’s worth mentioning that this is the tail end of tourist season here in Phoenix so I expect the situation will only get better here over the summer.

  62. I am currently renting a car on vacation. Booked two rental cars through Costco but didn’t trust that I would be able to get one. Ended up reserving a Toyota through a local dealership. Had to pay a deposit in advance but got the exact car I reserved.

  63. I understand the reason for making 2nd, 3rd, 4th backup reservations, but isn’t all of us doing that making the problem worse?

  64. I guess with so many people making two or three bookings (and cancelling extras last minute) you can’t really blame the rental companies for not actually holding cars for the reservations.

  65. I’ve been working in Rent a car industry for about a 15 years with several different companies. It is very normal for rental car industry to factor in no show into their bookings. On average every Rent-a-Car company will overbook by roughly 10% but no show could be 0 to 20%. General rules that companies using to prioritize reservations are:
    – honor “status”reservations aka gold ,preferred ,Emerald etc
    – honor prepaid non-refundable reservations which in most cases are booked on the company’s website
    – honor reservations booked on company webiste as opposed booked on a third party webiste. Expedia Travelocity Priceline they do take 20 to 30% commission from the company when they booked the car for them and company does not pay any commission for reservations that come through their own website which is more profitable in honoring those reservations.
    Few tips on booking:
    Have double reservations with two different companies just make sure that you second choice does not have penalty for not showing up. Generally if you’re booked on third-party website Expedia Travelocity and don’t pre-pay for there is no penalty for not showing up. This way if your first choice is oversold and they don’t have a car for you, you can always fall back on a second reservation.
    Book with major brands ! Since Hertz owns Dollar and Thrifty and uses aame fleet. Dollar /Thrifty customers would be told first “we do not have your car”
    Avis owns budget and Payless Rent-A-Car so same rule applies
    Enterprise Rent Rent-A-Car owns National and Alamo and Alamo customers would be told no reservation first
    Take this ownership situations in considerations when you double booking reservation so you are with a two separate companies.
    Rent a car industry was hurting due to pandemic and couple companies went out of business (advantage, ez rent a car). Hertz is still in bankruptcy so little harder to acquire new vehicles and a new fleet. New car industry is backed up due to shortages of semiconductors and microchips that goes into the vehicles. Orders placed by rent a car companies are delayed shortages will continue throughout the summer and supply and demand will drive rates up! Book now!

  66. In addition rental car companies utilization peaks Friday and Saturday. And 15 years I never told the customer I don’t have your car on Monday or Tuesday. Considering the business traveling is still down better rates might be available for pickup on Sunday and Monday or Tuesday. If you bookwith Avis Hertz or Enterprise on Sunday Monday or Tuesday prepaid for it 99.999% they will have a car for you

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